Adherents to the Lyrics of the Places We’ve Lived: Notes on the Second Book.

So today it is. This is official release date for my second poetry collection, This City at the Crossroads. This is that moment where the writer rejoices, embraces the idea that their work has been brought forth to the world, and all the toil behind it is officially brought from the private shadow into the public eye. While a good number of pieces have appeared in small magazines throughout the years, here is the totality of the thought behind that work. As this book begins to make it’s rounds to bookshops, libraries, and most importantly readers’ hands, I thought it important to speak to some aspects of the work.

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The Garage Next Door in Irvington

I used Carl Sandburg as a starting point to speak of a vibrant, beautiful city I once called home. Starting points are critical in explorations. If we understand that writing is an act of discovery, the process of writing this collection meant that I actively sought to discover the nature of the city and people in question. But it also meant that I actively sought to discover who am or who I was in the time I lived there. The starting point for this work comes after Big Medicine comes to Erie, but predates my return to Three-Fires Territory. The soul of the work arises from writing I did in the second floor office in the original urban farmhouse right across from the 400-year old Kyle Oak in the heart of Irvington. While revisions came years later, the soul remains. And the discovery is both personal and public. The launch of This City at the Crossroads marks the close of the chapter of this discovery.

 

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Author at his beloved Indiana Pacers game

This work is different than the other projects I’ve been putting myself to task on, recently. It’s different because it comes from a different place, a different time, and to some extent a different person. The measures by which I explore the events and places, and by which I had measured myself, were more fundamentally tied up with how to be both an American and a Hoosier. In the long run, I was neither. Perhaps no more than we are ever what labels are applied to us. But it was distance from those places and people and events that made writing and finishing this work happen. I would like to point out the great Montana poet and teacher Richard Hugo is absolutely correct in his notion of distance from the poetic triggering subject as a key to liberating the poet enough to write a poem. Or at least a truthful poem. That was the case with This City at the Crossroads. I love and miss Indy to large extent. In that longing and unrequited love came this book and the poems within it.

And I am returning to the places that the poems in this collection come from. A short book tour through the Hoosier Heartland means that I get to revisit a life and people and places that I moved away from. It will be a task of refamiliarizing to the places I once called home. And in that process, I will likely witness that we have both fundamentally changed. That is the impermanent nature of existence, change. There is beauty in it. What we have in this second collection is a snapshot of what it was to be me as the poetic I, wandering around Central Indiana, trying to hustle a life together, and figure out what kind of change Creator had me geared up for. Beauty is different things at different times. It exists only in the moment that it must.

I carry Indiana with me, make no mistake. Out of that I want share that part of me with those around me in the home and place that I know I belong to. Creation is a massive and wonderful place, that when we fill ourselves with love and understanding, we must celebrate. Such is the case even with the things we must leave behind because they aren’t meant for us. That is what this collection is. It is a gift to readers and those that haunt its pages, a not-so subtle reminder that origins and histories have beating hearts. Be sure to visit with me as I make my way to reading this collection around Indiana, Michigan, and Ontario. Pick up a copy (through this site or through your local bookstore) and experience these stories and songs with me. Let me share this part of creation with you.

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Author with the bust of Washington Irving, the Indianapolis east side neighbourhood’s namesake, at the crossroads of Irvington. 

 

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